After a man was found dead in HSVP’s uncovered manhole on Saturday, November 16, and the consequent registration of a case under Section 304 A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC, HSVP authorities flung into action, covering all manholes falling under its jurisdiction.
The open manhole in which victim Tarsem fell and died lies on the dividing road of sectors 15/16, and was covered on November 18, two days after his death. Since then, people employed by the Haryana Shahari Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP) can be seen all over the city, building new manhole covers.
The Municipal Corporation of Panchkula started a survey to assess the areas and spaces that might require repairs. “We are conducting a pan city survey and once it is over, we will start the repair work”, said MC Commissioner, Rajesh Jogpal.
While 32 sectors of the city are being tended to, HSVP authorities say most of the Kalka area of Panchkula district, barring one area, does not fall under their authority but under the authority of the civic body. When asked about the survey of open manholes in Kalka area, Jogpal said, “We are only doing it in the city, not the district.”
N K Payal, Xen HSVP, talking to Chandigarh Newsline said, “We have started the work in all sectors of the city that fall under HSVP including all 32 sectors of Panchkula and all sectors of MDC.”
Employers of HSVP have reportedly received strict instructions to cover all manholes, so no such incidents happen again.
The budget for the same has not been finalised as of yet, informed Payal. As per him, each sector has approximately 400 manholes. There are atleast 35 sectors that fall under HSVP, bringing the total average of manholes in the district to approximately 14,000.
While a single slab that is used to cover small 2×2 hole costs somewhere between Rs 10 to 20, the covers which require a base and a cap cost around Rs 1000. The road gullies cover cost almost Rs 400 and the bigger manholes, like the one Tarsem fell into, which was a tertiary water supply manhole, cannot be covered by a single slab and require at least 3-4 separate slabs, costs around Rs 2000.
Citizens, however, question the sudden action taken by authorities in the matter, alleging carelessness and demanding compensation for the victim’s family.
“No authority cares for the lives of people in Panchkula. It took the death of a person to wake them from their slumber. People of the city have written a number of letters to various authorities asking them to cover manholes, especially during monsoon but to no avail. I demand the family of the victim be given Rs 10 lakh as compensation for their loss and the carelessness on the hands of the government,” said Rakesh Agarwal, a resident of Sector 12.
Vicky Singh, resident of Sector 7, questioned HSVPs intention of covering manholes now saying, “The manhole near my house had been open since at least a year. Now they are just trying to cover their mistake so that they don’t have to go to jail.”
Tarsem, who had left his house at 8 pm on Friday, had been missing for 16 hours before he was found dead by a sanitation worker at around 12 pm on Saturday. A crime team and an ambulance was then called and the body was sent to Civil Hospital Panchkula for a post-mortem examination.